Robber barron's vs captains of industry essay help
May 14, 2018
People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy. Anton Chekhov I think the biggest misconception about me is people really don't know who I really am. They see the party side of me, they see the crazy side of me. But I also have a laid-back side. You know, I'm chill, down to earth. If you want to grab a cup of coffee and just talk about life, I can do that. Nicole Polizzi
Post Civil War industrialized America was full of new inventions and systems of business. Unfortunately many of these corporations that were started had corrupt leaders. Starting with the credit mobilier in the railroad industry to Jay Cooke in the finance industry and Carnegie in the steel industry. Most of these corporations created many jobs for Americans and the immigrants entering the US but they also gave them bad working conditions and low wages so that they could make as much profit as possible. Many historians call these leaders of the corporations the “robber barons”.
The Credit Mobilier scandal:
- Started with no regulation on what railroad companies were spending and who they were hiring.
- The Union Pacific Railroad hired a “sister” company, which was actually their company and over paid them on the governments tab.
- Often regarded as the second richest man in history
- He made his fortunes in the steel industry with vertical integration.
- Carnegie gave away a large amount of his wealth after he had establish a solid company and made more then enough money to last his lifetime.
According to Henry George:
- The gap between the poor and the rich is increasing due to these “robber barons of the late 19th century.
- Workers will take low wage jobs in dangerous working conditions because there was not enough money to feed the family.
- Even children had to work in factories or in mines.
Boss Tweed and the “Tweed Ring”:
- Tweed was a NY politician who was the third-largest landowner in New York City.
- Tweed stole large sums of money from NYC taxpayers through political corruption.
- He was convicted and died in Ludlow Street Jail, which he ironically built.
Not every corporation had robber barons in the Late 1800’s but the ones that did made a lasting impact on the way government regulates businesses. These corrupt leaders are now know as the “robber barons”...
IN THE MIDDLE AGES the Rhine was Europe’s most important commercial waterway. Like many modern highways, it was a toll route. Toll points were meant to be approved by the Holy Roman Emperor, but local landowners often charged river traffic for passing through. These “robber barons”, as they became known, were a serious impediment to trade, and imperial forces had to take costly punitive action to remove them.Get our daily newsletter
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The relationship between business and the state bears some resemblance to this medieval tussle. Like those Rhine boatmen, the companies operating within national borders must pay something towards the cost of supporting commerce, but if the tolls are excessive, trade will suffer. At least some of the world’s 200 or so countries will be tempted to act as robber barons, charging the equivalent of protection money to the companies they deal with.
Some people on the left would argue that the label should be applied in the opposite way. In the late 19th century the term “robber barons” came to refer to the American railway magnates who used their monopoly power to drive competitors out of business. Politicians such as the trustbusting presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft crusaded against such corporate power.
Since then that anti-corporate mood has never quite dissipated. Modern multinationals are sometimes portrayed as overmighty, using their wealth to subvert politicians through their campaign contributions and lobbying power and to evade their social responsibility.
Much political rhetoric across the spectrum suggests that the relationship between companies and the state is in essence antagonistic. Those on the right argue that government interferes far too much in the process of wealth generation and hinders rather than helps commerce. Those on the left depict business as a ravenous predator that government needs to control, exploiting workers and consumers and evading taxes.
All that combative talk made it harder to respond to the 2007-08 banking crisis. The collapse of the subprime-mortgage market and the subsequent rescue of the banking sector created a sense of anger towards the financial elite which turned into a wider frustration with the corporate world. The crisis led to a plunge in tax revenues and a sharp rise in budget deficits, prompting governments to pursue austerity programmes that imposed tax increases on many middle-class people and cut the benefits of the less well-off. Such a climate breeds resentment of companies that are seen as not paying their fair share of taxes or of exploiting their monopoly pricing power.
Perhaps the trickiest relationship at present is between governments and the technology industry
In response, governments have introduced strict new regulation, particularly for banks, and sought to crack down on the use of offshore tax havens. But they have also recognised that they cannot afford to drive multinational business away. Some countries, including Britain, have cut their tax rates in order to attract new business from abroad. “Countries have got to see themselves as being an attractive shop window for multinational investment,” says John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry. Even France’s president, François Hollande, who in 2012 came into office on a wave of anti-capitalist rhetoric, last month announced a €30 billion ($41 billion) cut in corporate taxes in an attempt to revive a stagnant economy.
For all their differences, the two sides need each other. Governments rely on businesses to drive economic growth, create jobs and generate the exports to ensure that their countries can pay their way in the world. Multinationals are particularly important, argues Ted Moran of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an American think-tank: they pay higher wages than other companies, export more and have a superior record in research and development. And countries would be unwise to rely on multinationals staying put come what may: WPP, an advertising and marketing group, moved its headquarters from London to Dublin in 2008 in a dispute over tax on overseas profits, then moved it back again after the rules were changed. With growth in emerging markets so much faster than in the developed world, locations like Singapore or Dubai are becoming ever more attractive.
Businesses, for their part, need governments. It is not just that they provide the legal systems and the basic security that allow companies to operate in the first place; they also educate the workers on whom firms depend, and they create the infrastructure—roads, railways and air-traffic control—that enables companies to get their goods to market. Moreover, governments undertake a lot of scientific research that businesses can turn into commercial products, from the internet to satellite positioning systems to drug development.
In many industries the government is also a key customer; after all, a typical government in a developed country spends around 40% of GDP. Defence is an obvious example, but the pharmaceutical industry is also important: national health services are huge buyers of drugs, and government bodies have to approve new products before they come to market. Construction, too, depends heavily on government action: a boost to infrastructure spending can make a big difference to the industry’s prospects.
Government policy also has serious (and sometimes unintended) effects on corporate structure. In America, high corporate taxes and a growing body of regulation have led to a decline in the number of public corporations and the emergence of alternative structures such as “master limited partnerships”. Around the world, the tax deductibility of interest payments has encouraged a greater reliance on debt rather than equity and favoured private-equity firms. Even though executives moan about excessive government interference, shares on Wall Street have been hitting record highs, and profits as a share of America’s GDP are close to a post-war high.
Because of the sheer scale of the modern state, companies are obliged to engage with it on many levels. Governments, for their part, are expected to deal with a variety of ills in society, from banning imports of unhealthy or dangerous substances to combating global warming.
You know too much
Perhaps the trickiest relationship at present is between governments and the technology industry. Some consumers are uneasy about the large amount of digital data being hoovered up and want governments to regulate the way that businesses use and maintain these data. The governments’ security services, for their part, want to have access to such information whenever they feel the need. Recent revelations about the extent of government monitoring of e-mails and phone calls have pushed this issue into the headlines and created a dilemma for tech companies. Do they stand up for their customers and risk being accused of compromising security, or do they give in to governments and risk alienating their customers?
Another set of complications arises from social benefits for citizens provided jointly by companies and governments. In health care, for instance, many small businesses think that America’s Affordable Care Act imposes an excessive administrative burden on them. Parental leave also divides the spirits. Many governments want to extend maternity leave for women and offer parental leave to fathers. That may be manageable for big businesses but is harder to implement for small companies. Given that voters are resistant to higher taxes, politicians are drawn to programmes that offer improved benefits at the expense of companies rather than the state.
Big businesses accept that they need a relationship with government. That has fuelled the rise of the lobbying industry and, in some countries, the growth of campaign contributions by firms. Many people now suspect that the key to success in business is not necessarily to be the most competitive but the best-connected. Lobbying creates a kind of arms race in which tax laws and regulations become ever more complex as companies seek to influence the rules to suit their own interests.
Favoured firms can be “national champions”, such as airlines, which governments strive to protect through regulation and restrictions on foreign ownership. In international trade negotiations they often try to protect the interests of a vital industry, as France does with agriculture and Britain with financial services. In emerging markets such practices are even more entrenched. In some industries, such as energy, Western multinationals find themselves at a disadvantage in their dealings with state-owned titans, as BP found in Russia.
This special report will concentrate on the relationship between business and state in the rich world, which in the aftermath of the financial crisis is clearly under strain. It will consider the role of tax, regulation and competition policy, explain why the technology industry is a special case, examine the arguments for and against lobbying and give examples of how the relationship can be managed successfully.